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FORMER Secretary-General of the Common Wealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku  and former Vice President of Nigeria, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar  have backed calls for the country’s restructuring instead of a break-up.
The duo opined that the devolution of power will foster unity, patriotism stressing that the citizens have legal right to peacefully agitate for restructuring.
Atiku, stated this at the third dialogue series on national unity, integration, and devolution of power/restructuring organised by the Savannah Centre for Diplomacy, Democracy and Development (SCDDD), held at the weekend in Abuja.
He stressed the need for the Federal Government to embrace negotiations rather than individuals sponsoring youth groups to issue provocative statements capable of causing unrest in the country.
He identified hate speeches by self-acclaimed representatives of different ethnic groups as the biggest obstacle to realising a productive negotiation.
He pointed out that the people’s needs go beyond good governance but equitable and all-inclusive governance which he said, will give a sense of belonging to everyone irrespective of parts of the country.
To this end, he urged the government to look into the various basis for the agitation instead of vilifying them.
“Sponsoring so-called youth groups to issue provocative statements and cause trouble is not a substitute for reasoned arguments as to the better path to the future.
“This country was built originally out of negotiations by sectional groups and leaders.  I believe that our generation is capable of negotiations and compromises for the greater good of our country and our peoples.
“The biggest challenge seems to be that we seem to be allowing moderate voices on this issue to be drowned out by the reckless utterances of a few rabble rousers on all sides who may be tools in the hands of those who do not wish this country well. These are some of the people who arrogate to themselves the toga of spokespersons of our diverse groups.

“The people do not just want to see good governance; they also want fair and equitable governance. And they want to be respected as bona fide members of the society.  People like to see themselves represented in those doing the governing. Let’s not forget that some of the most efficient and effective governments in history were also exclusionary brutal dictatorships which maintained national cohesion until those regimes collapsed,” he said.
He further added that, “People have a constitutional right to peacefully agitate for restructuring, so focus on identifying the reasons for the agitations. We are now in a democracy and democratic freedoms allow people to express themselves freely, including questioning the political and economic structures of the country and their place in it. We should try to understand the basis for the agitations and calls for a new compact rather than vilify the agitators. It is disingenuous to accuse everyone who calls for restructuring as trying to break up the county.
“Restructuring will contribute to national cohesion and good governance devolving more powers to the federating units and transferring more resources to them will help to decongest the centre and enhance greater manageability, efficiency and accountability. There will be more clarity in the division of powers and responsibilities between the centre and the federating units, and there will be a reduction in the attention paid to the centre.
“People are more likely to hold their state and local governments to account once those governments are no longer able to convincingly blame the central government for their shortcomings; Restructuring will promote healthy competition among our federating units, which will encourage them to diversify their revenue sources.
“There is also another huge economic imperative for us to restructure: oil, which underlined and underwrote our excessive centralization and fragmentation into numerous nonviable states, and which has been at the centre of much of our squabbles, seems to have reached its peak as source of revenues for our country. That window may not remain open for a long time, which may then make the inevitable transition much more painful and chaotic.”
On his part, Anyaoku reiterated his stand on restructuring of the country into six federating units.
He said the only differences in the country are language, politics and religion.
He said restructuring will bring back the spirit of patriotism and unity among Nigerians.
His words: “I believe in the return to true federalism, the restructuring of the 36 states to six viable federating units.
“Political, language and religion are the only differences between us. Restructuring will revive the spirit of patriotism among Nigerians,” he added.

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